Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Say It Loud, Say It Plowed

The editors at Modern Drunkard magazine must have sobered up for the fall.

A few days ago I got my September/October issue of the magazine, a full five days before the end of the month. Whereas most magazines come weeks before the month they're due, Modern Drunkard comes a month late. Sometimes two.

All part of its charm.

The June/July issue was so late - I finally got it in September - that I thought my subscription had lapsed. Nope. Turns out, publication cycles at Modern Drunkard are taken a lot less seriously than say, the merits of Juicing on the Job.

Of the half dozen or so magazines I actually send a check to and subscribe, I look forward to Modern Drunkard the most. Devoted to the "joys and pains of getting plastered, plowed, bombed, ripped, hammered and blotto" it's always funny and entertaining. And despite not having a writing staff - at least as far as I can tell - it's a damn good read.

The best eulogy I read after Hunter S. Thompson went gonzo one last time and shot himself was written by Modern Drunkard's editor, Frank Rich. Below is a taste. The rest is here.

"There was always a powerful comfort in knowing he was out there somewhere in the night, roaring drunk, guzzling high-octane whiskey and railing against a world amok with complacency and hypocrisy. There was always a weird sense that he could pop up any where at any time to stick it to The Man and set things straight."

And before your next drink, be sure to read the 86 Rules of Boozing. Gems in here, people. Gems.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Digital Workout

As I work on some videos, including one of my mom and dad explaining (er, justifying) how they forgot my birthday, check out some recent photos.

Happy Birthday to me! Presents from my Tall Drink of Water.

The big one was the Senseo single serve coffee maker. Yay!

Hard-core for runners at Jen and Pat's Halloween party. (Something we'll never be mistaken for.) Check out TDW's obscenely short, split-cut running shorts. Yikes. (Running medals donated by Big Bri and his Jen.)

Pat changed out of his Mayor of Salem costume for this turn as a game show host for Halloween movie trivia. TDW and I started off strong in The Excorcist category, but ultimately lost in Final Jeopardy.

I didn't at first recognize this hipster werewolf until his fashionable D-Lister date was at his side. Good one.

High-fiving strangers was my favorite part of today's game. The camraderie at Bengals games is terrific. It makes you love football, even though the games are 9 hours long and there's a flag on every play. Even as people were leaving our aisle they were slapping us high-fives and Who Deys. Very fun.

I got TDW tickets for his birthday, which isn't until mid-November, so it was an early present.

Somehow, my hair looks better with post-game hat head. And as a present to myself (gotta support the team!), I got my first Cincinnati-sports related t-shirt. It's funny it's a Bengals shirt considering I went to 15 Reds games this season. (That's right 15!)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I'm Free!

For over a year I've taken a Wednesday night dance class (tap and hip-hop) in a renovated Wendy's in Northern Kentucky.

It's the class I looked for for years after high school and college when I ran out of dance options. So finding this class at Manyet Dance was terrific. The women are fun, entertaining and they're good dancers, which is something you won't find at most adult dance classes.

This is due mainly to the instructor, Lisa, who is a challenging teacher and terrific dancer herself.

But as with all things with me, each week I dreaded going. I'd love it for the two hours I was there, then it'd start all over again, 'Damn, I have to go to dance class Wednesday. Grrr."

I hate to be scheduled. I hate knowing I HAVE to do anything, be anywhere, or have an appointment of any kind. It looms over me. (It makes having a job very difficult.)

So tonight, with help from Big Bri, my Tall Drink of Water and several coworkers, I decided to quit. Yep. I'm a quitter. But I'm free!

I'm a little sad about it. I know my calves won't hurt on Thursdays anymore and my flexibility will plummet, but having my Wednesday nights free again is liberating.

And anyway, I only sorta quit. I chatted with Lisa, who said our class will start its new dances after the holidays. So she's saving a spot for me to start back up again January 15.

Which means I'll be back to complaining about all over again.


My mom forgot my birthday.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Friday Night Fun

This as of 12:28 a.m. Look at him. Isn't he a trooper? Ah yes... This is the scene most Friday nights. My Tall Drink of Water is passed out on the couch and I'm usually reading. Pretty exciting, we are.

But this weekend is different, because it's my birthday weekend. On Tuesday, I am happy to report, I will be turning 100. Don't I look young for my age?

Once I get through soccer tomorrow morning, it's all about me. And I've got big plans for us.

Tonight we had dinner at the Montgomery Inn, which is where I have TDW take me for birthdays, special occasions (like when I'm mad at him and he wants me to forgive him) or whenever he cashes in on sports bets.

Tonight's special was Cincinnati's D-List media personalities.

First, we got seated next to Rich Apuzzo, the recently fired meteorologist at FOX19. (Management was "looking into something" before he got canned. My prediction: Apuzzo is behind the five months of perma-cloud that sits on Cincinnati every winter. Or management just figured out that meteorologists are always wrong!)

Anyway, it was wildly entertaining. TDW and I got into a tiff over the appropriateness of me wanting to ask him, "So, why'd ya get fired." I mean, come on, it's not like everyone doesn't know. It was widely reported. (Not that I read any of it.)

Then I said I could pretend like I didn't know, because really, I don't watch the 10 o'clock news, especially on FOX.

I could be like, "Oh! It's you! Haven't seen ya on the news for a while. Where've you been?"

But TDW put the smack down on that too.

"But you DO know. I told you!" he said.

Technicalities. Technicalities.

Then, a colleague of mine who works in online and is also a Cincinnati.com blogger, who shall remain nameless since he probably Googles himself once a month and could find this blog and know that I think he's ridiculous, was seated at another booth right near us, making that section of the Montgomery Inn the D-list media trifecta. (His name rhymes with "Ryan Slutts," and his last name is as equally unfortunate.)

He was on a date it appeared. (The girl was wearing panty-hose, anyway.) I was tempted to roll up and go, "So... You were supposed to fix my video two days ago and never did." Then for effect I'd push his Mt. Dew over. But that seemed excessive. Then TDW and I discussed the pros and cons of walking over and eating something off his plate.

I totally should have, though, because whenever you call up my Spam video in anything other than Internet Explorer, some Bengal's fan pops up singing about Jesus and football.

OK, so that's hilarious. But still.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Somewhat Less Disturbed Now

This email was in my inbox when I got to work Monday morning.

SUBJECT: Thanks!!!
Thank you again for coming to the fight. I really appreciate the phone call, I just got it tonight and I didnt know if it was too late
to call you back or not. Sorry I did not put on a good show. I know I have the talent to beat him but I made a stupid mistake and I got caught. But thank you again I am fine, I actually grappled today. I do remember the fight but my head is a little sore. But other than that I am ready to go again. lol! Please don't let this hinder your opinion about mma.

Thank you again!
Brent Roth

Sunday, October 08, 2006

That's Gonna Leave A Mark (On Me)

I've been quiet and alarmed all day as my mind replays images last night's cage match at the convention center.

To say Brent Roth was knocked-out is accurate, but not precise. To say he lost to a knock-out suggests he was outskilled, outfought. And that wasn't the case, at least to my untrained eye.

I had been looking forward to the fight for weeks, since I interviewed the 19-year-old Brent for this story.

I went to watch him practice and talked to his dad and mom and trainer, and came away from the story with an appreciation and relative understanding of mixed martial arts and cage fighting. This article in Slate helped a lot too.

Brent was 3-0 before the fight and had daydreams of turning professional in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

After school at Wright State, five days a week, Brent trains with his Gracie Jiu-Jitsu instructor in mixed martial arts and another instructor in boxing. I even made this video of his training to go along with the story.

You'll see (if you use Firefox as your browser, Safari won't show it) he is soft-spoken, seemingly sweet and without a hint of the hubris or cockiness found in cage fighters. Though skilled, he doesn't seem like the guy who'd lock himself into a steel octogon and want to fight his way out.

Nonetheless, I was excited to see him try, and I knew his parents, classmates and family would be there as well.

A few days before the match Brent's opponent was changed, unbeknowst to him. He'd been training to fight a wrestler who was on the original card. But I noticed the change after writing the story and emailed Brent to see if he knew why. He didn't.

From then on, I had a bad feeling about it. I don't know why, I just did.

His was the second to last fight and I sat there nervous the whole time waiting. The rest of the fights were pretty entertaining. I can see why people like it. One fighter, who had an entourage of people wearing blue Team Demon t-shirts, suffered what I guess was a humiliating loss because he came back from the fight and hugged his mom for a good long while, then his girlfriend, and then his friends before he went to the consession stand for nachos. (Nachos being the official snack of cage fighting, I decided last night.)

Another guy, who was older than anyone else and kind of graying, was a little sad to watch because he was far too inexperienced to be in the ring and took a good pummeling before the ref called the fight. Not to mention his pony-tail fell out, which made me kinda sad for him.

But the rest of the fights were pretty tame. A few guys got knocked around pretty good, but not much. There was minimal blood and no knock outs. Mostly, it was guys throwing a few punches and rolling around on the matt before the other, usual the better man at martial arts, pretzeled him into submission.

Then it was Brent's fight. I was videoing it thinking I'd post it on CinWeekly so people could see how he did. Win or lose, I thought it'd be interesting.

Brent and his opponent boxed for about one minute, both getting off a few good hits with some kicks mixed in. Then as Brent went to kick him again, his opponent grabbed his foot and within seconds, Brent was above the guys head. Several fighters last night got body slammed without peril, but I felt like when it was happening, it was bad.

And then Brent came down on the back of his head and neck. He was unconscious as soon as he hit the mat, I imagine. But his opponent seized the opportunity, pounced on him and started punching him in the face as Brent layed there, unconscious and quivering. The crowd went crazy, then silent. I felt sick.

The ref tackled his opponent as soon as he realized Brent was unconscious. Three medics rushed into the cage, along with his trainer. For about two minutes, Brent didn't move or speak. I turned off my video camera horrified that I was taping his final moments. That not only was I privy to his death, but that I was filming it.

With a lump in my throat, I grabbed ahold of my Tall Drink of Water to have him help me down from the chair I was standing on.

After several agonizing minutes and stunned silence from the crowd, Brent finally lifted his head. About that time, the medics brought in an orange stetcher and I wondered how it happened that the only person to be hurt and carried out on a stretcher would be Brent. It seemed so surreal.

But he refused it, and with the help of his trainer and the medics, he stood up and walked out of the ring on his own. Wobbling and in need of assistance, but not on a stretcher.

All last night and today I've been challenged to remove the images from my mind. To think of him landing the way he did, without a chance of fighting back, and then being pummelled while unconscious is to tough to wrap my mind around.

It finally got the better of me tonight and I was able to track down his trainer's phone number. So I called him. On a Sunday night. I told him how much it shook me up and that I'd been worried all day and just wanted to make sure Brent was all right.

"It's hard to see," he assured me. "It's violent. We were all scared. But Brent's fine."

Then he kind of laughed, saying how nice it was that I was concerned.

"We talked about the mistake he made in letting himself get airborne," he went on. "Actually, we just finished some jiu-jitsu training tonight. He's doing fine. You want his cellphone number?"

I called and left Brent a rambling message, telling him my first cage match was fun, except that I worried about him all day and hoped he was feeling OK. Then I told him that I was going to email him tomorrow and if he could write me back assuring me that he is all right, I'd appreciate it.

It surprises me how affected I am by this, but if you saw the video, you'd see why.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Best Lemonade This Side of a Dirty Glass

The weather really was beautiful this week, and my mom, an avid walker, took advantage and set out around the neighborhood.

"And I saw the cutest little girl with a lemonade stand, Gina," she told me, using her sweet voice, the one she uses to talk to little kids. "She must have been about six or seven, and she had her two front teeth missing. And she was just a-sittin' there, swinging her legs in her little chair."

"So I asked her, 'How much for a glass of lemonade,' and she told me 50 cents. Then I noticed that she only had three glasses out. Glass glasses, not paper cups. So I asked her how many customers she'd had and she said three, but that she'd wiped off the glasses with paper towels she had sitting there. But still all the glasses had been drank out of. I thought, 'Oh no. What am I gonna do?'

I, too, wondered what she was going to do. My mom is quirky in the sense that she won't eat things from other people's houses unless she can vouch for their cleanliness.

During carry-ins at the factory where she worked, she'd always bring a dish but would only pretend to eat what other people brought, not knowing where and under what circumstances the food had been prepared. She's maniacal particularly when it comes to animals in the house. If she knew a coworker had a cat or dog that lived in their house, under no circumstances would she eat the food, regardless of whether or not she was starving or missing the best brownies on Earth.

She even has a hard time eating at my house, because of Cassady and Cassius. (And for good reason, there's freakin' cat hair everywhere!) And she refuses, absolutely will not, touch a dog or cat with her hands. (She pets my cats with her foot.)

Faced with the decision of hurting the feelings of the cutest little girl in Marion selling lemonade and being forced to drink after someone else, I was curious how this would go down.

"Well, of course I wasn't going to hurt her feelings," she said. "So I gave her 50 cents and had her pour the tiniest amount of lemonade into one of the glasses, and about that time her mom came from around the side of the house and said, 'Thank you so much for stopping! She's been sitting out here all day.'"

"Awww, well that's so nice that you stopped," I told her.

"And the lemonade was really good. So I walked home and got your dad and told him we were going up the street to this little girl's lemonade stand. Then I grabbed a couple of paper cups. You know your dad - he won't drink out of a dirty glass. He's funny about stuff like that."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Required Reading

Some great stuff out there.

This Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article from Sundays A1 examines how much companies are profiting by aligning themselves with breast cancer awareness and the Pink Ribbon ad campaign. For example, how much does Motorola actually give to the cause every time someone buys a pink phone?

And if I were half the critic and writer that Slate reporter Byran Curtis is, who wrote this piece about Mitch Albom, then I'd be... Well, I don't know where I'd be, but somewhere like Slate.

Curtis describes Albom as "a peddler of shallow morality tales for the masses." He goes on to call him a "huckster evangelist for the soccer-mom set." I'd love to be able to write eviscerating critiques like that. Hell, I'd settle for thoughtful critiques.

I read Albom's Tuesday's With Morrie when I came out after asking for it for a birthday. The best I could muster on the blank page in the back after I read it was "overrated" and "not actually moving, just manipulative." Mostly, I just thought it sucked.

Every time I clear out my bookshelves I think of tossing ol' Tuesdays into the Goodwill pile, but I get such a charge out of complaining about that book that I've kept it around. The last time my Tall Drink of Water nearly insisted I get rid it - I think he never wanted to be subjected to the Albom tirade again - but alas, it still sits on the shelf, waiting for me to launch into how much I hated it again.

Once, while lampooning his other book, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, my coworker Sue said "more like the one ego-maniac you meet in Detroit." It still makes me laugh.

And then there's this article, Pursuing Happiness, from the New Yorker. I just read it this summer, even though it came out in February. (There is a stack of unread New Yorkers taking over my apartment - and my will to live!) But the article is great reading.

Go ahead and write this down: H=S+C+V. It's the secret of happiness according the article. You can buy me a coffee or something as a thanks later.

One thing I wanted to post a link to is a piece Nora Ephron published in the New Yorker this summer called Serial Monogamy, about her love of cook books and her obsession with their authors. I'm not much a cookbook lover, but the piece was so well written and so funny that I came away thinking that Nora is the writer of the family, even though it's her famous ex, Carl Bernstein, who gets all the accolades. (So he helped bring down the Nixon White House, what has he done lately?)

You can read Serial Monogamy if you buy her new book of essays, I Feel Bad About My Neck.

Well, I can tell you one thing Carl Bernstein has done lately and that's attend the wedding of a former Enquirer reporter who now works for him. I chatted with her at Jen's wedding, and three weeks later Jen attended her wedding, at which Carl Bernstein was present.

Jen described him as "a crazy dancer," and not in a good way, and also kind of embarrassing, like a crazy uncle.

"If someone would have had a video camera it would have been tempting to post it on YouTube he was that wacky," Jen said.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Welcome Home 6-Drawer Malm Dresser

The box that it came in was about the size of a Trapper Keeper.

Three hours later, my Tall Drink of Water slid in the final drawer. Hooray!

Weekend In Pittsburgh

This is the view from the top of the Duquesne Incline in Pittsburgh. It cost us $7 total to take the car 400 feet up the side of Mount Washington (formerly, and better, Coal Hill) at a 30 degree grade. I counted 12 bridges from where I stood, spanning the Ohio, Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers.

It was very cool and picturesque. I wish only that we'd had more time to eat in one of the restuaurants that afforded the same view.

But the rest of trip was taken up with Ikea (woo hoo!) and Reds versus Pirates game (boo).

I took lots of video at Ikea with Gonzo, my hand-held surreptitious partner-in-crime. The particle board shoppers were none the wiser. They probably thought it was an iPod. I got a new dresser. My life will be totally different now that my dresser drawers won't fall onto my legs whenever I need a pair socks.

We also watched the Reds blow the Saturday night game. It started to rain around the 2nd, so we walked around PNC Park instead. The best part of the game was watching some guy get kicked out and man-handled by security. I didn't see what he did to deserve the boot, but the security guy seemed overzealous to me. Then again, I always find that to be true. The guy at least got a few shots of beer to splatter in the security guard's face, though. Good stuff.

Ooh. Almost forgot! My Tall Drink of Water and I stayed at the Omni William Penn downtown, where Gina DiSalvo and her equally Italian named man were getting married. So until about midnight on Saturday we got the pleasure of hearing a bad cover band (That's the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, I like it!) play above us in the Grand Ballroom.